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[[Image:|140x170px|left|Main stairway at Persepolis palace]]The Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC) was forged by Cyrus the Great, and became territorially the largest empire in antiquity, stretching from Pakistan and Central Asia to the Black Sea, Asia Minor and Thrace, and much of Egypt going as far west as Libya. It is noted in western history as the foe of the Greek city states in the Greco-Persian Wars, for freeing the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity, and for instituting Aramaic as the empire's official language. This era saw the spread of Persian culture, and the beginning of the decline of ancient Near East culture centered in Babylon. Two centuries later, after Alexander the Great's conquest, Greece would eclipse both.

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Old Assyrian Empire and its neighbors
Shamshi-Adad I (reigned c. 1745 ñ 1717 BC (short chronology)) rose to prominence when he carved out a large empire in northern Mesopotamia, founding the Old Assyrian Empire, although the Assyria was soon defeated by Hammurabi of Babylon and remained in the shadow of the Babylonian Empire throughout the "old Assyrian" period.

Shamshi-Adad was a great organizer, keeping firm control on all matters of state, from high policy down to appointing officials and dispatching provisions. His campaigns were meticulously planned, and his army knew all the classic methods of siegecraft, such as encircling ramparts and battering rams. Spies and propaganda were often used to win over rival cities. However, his empire lacked cohesion and when news of his death spread, old rivals set out at once to topple his sons from the throne.

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Column figure at Persepolis palace
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Column figure at Persepolis palace

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Nabonidus Cylinder
...that the Hurrian language and the Urartian language are proposed to be distantly related to the modern Armenian language?

...that the Aramaic language, the lingua franca of the ancient Near East in Biblical times is still spoken as a first language today?

...that the syllabic cuneiform script was adapted to create a phonetic alphabet twice, for the Ugaritic language and for the Old Persian language?

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